Thursday, 10 February 2011

Paint Mixer - Aldi Bargain

I’ve found a solution to a common hobby problem that I’d like to pass on.  The problem is paint separation with age or storage.

Over time the pigments in hobby paints settle out leaving a thin liquor of acrylic medium. Whilst the paint is new, vigorous shaking usually works fine. However, as the paint is used it gets harder to remix and I got fed up of shaking bottles and getting variable results.

There had to be a better way. I first thought of buying a laboratory roller mixer but they are far too expensive. Then I found this in my local Aldi:



It’s a ultrasound cleaner and it’s ideal for remixing suspensions of solid particles; or paint pigments to you and me.  For the theory behind how it works I recommend this Wikipedia article.

I bought mine for £19.99.  It’s sold as a jewellery cleaner but will easily take hobby paint pots in many sizes. The top is purely cosmetic and doesn’t need to be closed for it to work.  It’s already proved invaluable in lots of small ways like:
  • Diluting part-used and desiccated craft paints with water. 
  • Reviving part-used Vallejo and Rackham paints with matt medium.
  • Re-suspending my favourite spirit based varnish (Humbrol Matt Cote).
However, the biggest successes so far have been:
  • Resurrecting an old jar of Plaka red brown which had a lot of gloppy casein in the bottom.  This took four 8 minute sessions in the cleaner with some serious stirring between the first three sessions.  It’s now as good as new, flowing well and drying that perfect Plaka matt.
  • Reviving some Vallejo Scarlet.  This had poor coverage and had been drying with a satin sheen. After two 8 minute sessions in the cleaner the paint now flows and covers really well. The improved pigment and medium distribution means it is drying perfectly matt once again. 
I think the Aldi stock has all gone but the same model is currently on special offer at Maplins in the UK for £29.99 and is available from Amazon for £28.00.  I’m glad I bought mine when I did and it has also been a hit with my wife who’s been busy cleaning all her jewellery.

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